We’ve brewed A LOT of beer over the past year ( >20 batches!). Sometimes we just don’t find the time to properly review each brew session/beer. This post covers some of those “lost” beers.
Way back on March 30, 2014 we brewed a Russian Imperial Stout (with help from @sourbrain). The recipe called for over 50 lbs of grain for a whopping 12% ABV. In preparation for one of the biggest beers we had ever brewed (still to this day), we quickly learned that our converted 10 gallon Igloo Cooler was no match for such a hefty grain bill. So, instead of mashing once for one 10-gallon batch, we were forced to mash twice for two 5-gallon batches. This extended the brew day another 1.5 hours, but proved to be with the effort. Our SG came just shy of the 1.109 target due to a measly 68.3% mash efficiency.
Once the boil wrapped up, the Stout was moved into fermenters where it was met with a healthy dose of oxygen and a large slurry of our house yeast strain. Fermentation was conducted at 66F for 2-3 weeks. Once complete, a small portion (~12 bottles) was bottled and named Squatch. The remainder was transferred into a freshly dumped, 10-gallon Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey Barrel for five additional weeks. The whiskey soaked Stout was then split into two 5-gallon batches; half aged with cold steeped coffee, and half aged with cacao nibs. The idea was to yield two unique beers from one barrel, a Coffee Whiskey Stout and Chocolate Whiskey Stout. The beers were dubbed Morning Fix and Afternoon Delight, respectfully.
We opted for Hawaii Roasters Award Winning Farm Roasted 100% Kona Coffee and Healthworks Certified Organic Raw Cacao Nibs. While there are many homebrew and commercial examples using other beans/nibs, from our research, we learned that these particular brands were some of the best according to Amazon. The coffee was steeped with cold, sterile water at a ratio of 1:4 ounces. For Morning Fix, we used 4 oz of ground coffee. Similarly Afternoon Delight aged with cacao nibs at a rate of 1.6 oz/gallon. The nibs were ground and roasted at 350F for 30 minutes before being added to secondary.
When we finally got around to bottling, Squatch, Morning Fix, and Afternoon Delight all tasted quite hot. So we let them bottle condition, for a LONG time. We cracked open a few around New Years (nine months later!), only to find that the beers had aged gracefully. All three were very approachable and full-flavored, one even drawing comparisons to a famous commercial variant (no kidding). That’s when we knew we had something very special.
Fast forward to March 2015 and the 2015 National Homebrew Competition. While we entered four beers into the world’s largest homebrew competition, we knew that our best chance at earning a medal lied with Morning Fix. And boy did it not disappoint! We placed 3rd for Category 23: Specialty Beer in the New York Region, earning us a bronze certificate and a place at the Final Round in July in San Diego. Below you will find the judge’s tasting notes. Keep an eye out for our own tasting in a upcoming post!
Entry No: 12528 | Style: 23A Specialty | Final Assigned Score: 39 (Excellent)
Aroma: “Strong coffee ground character” (7/12)
“Coffee bomb, no rye whiskey” (9/12)
Appearance: (2/3), (3/3)
Flavor: “Way more complex than aroma – roast, grain, oak, booze, and coffee” (17/20)
“Rye whiskey is subtle, mostly provides warming, low hop bitterness for style, coffee is killer good” (16/20)
Mouthfeel: “Definitely a little cloying!” (4/5)
“A little hot but ok for style” (4/5)
Overall Impression: “Nice work avoiding green pepper from coffee. Coffee flavor could be a bit more ‘crisp’ but otherwise a very fun and well made beer!” (8/10), (8/10)
Total: (38/50), (40/50)
Place Awarded: 3